Can Owners do Anything to Slow the Progress of Collapsing Trachea?

Dr. I am suffering horribly from the loss of my 10 yr old yorkie who was diagnosed last year with a collapsing trachea. I never...


Dr. I am suffering horribly from the loss of my 10 yr old yorkie who was diagnosed last year with a collapsing trachea. I never realized the seriousness because that wasn’t really implied to me. Dr. gave medicine theophyllin 1/2 table 1x or 2x a day as needed. The cough continued but if he was excited or drinking water he was ok.

He went into a severe respiratory episode on our way to our cottage. We found a hospital but he had a rough go of it and said he wouldn’t probably make it through the night and he ran a fever but he didn’t act sick at all leading up to this. We put him to sleep when she said his collapsing trachea was severe and long and inoperable. I feel guilty that he died like this. I knew he wasn’t like he was before.

I like article because it seems like medicine was only to deal with symptoms and quality of life. That this disease is chronic and progressive. Maybe there was no way to stop the progress but I feel I was negligent in not treating the symptoms more aggressively. I didn’t know in one year it go so fast. Was the outcome going to be this with this disease even if I used a variety of medicines? Was it quickly progressing because that was the nature of how this disease acted in my dog? Was he the rare percentage and there was no hope? Please help me come to some terms with what my sweet little Kobi went through. I feel horrible. He was not suffering he just would cough and then it would clear up but he was certainly getting tired and less active. I am sorry for this being so long. I thank you for your response.


Collapsing trachea is a syndrome that is common in older small dogs. It occurs when the structures that support the windpipe (trachea) degenerate over time. This causes the windpipe to lose its rigidity. The windpipe then becomes subject to periods of collapse as air movements cause low pressure within it.

Most dogs with collapsing trachea suffer from intermittent coughing (the collapsing windpipe causes a tickle in the throat). The coughing is most common during periods of excitement, or if the windpipe is stimulated by pressure from a neck lead. For most individuals, coughing is persistent and progressive, but quality of life is not seriously compromised.

However, for an unfortunate few dogs with collapsing trachea, the syndrome can become life threatening. In these individuals, tracheal collapse is severe enough that air flow is compromised. This can lead to fatal acute respiratory crises.

Collapsing trachea is a chronic, progressive syndrome. There is little that an owner can do to slow the progress of collapsing trachea. Surgical intervention (placement of a tracheal stint) sometimes will buy a bit of time for rapidly progressing cases. However, the surgery is not universally available and most dogs with collapsing trachea don’t need it.

Anne, I am sorry to hear that your dog’s condition deteriorated so rapidly and unexpectedly. Please don’t feel bad about what happened. I believe that there is little you could have done to prevent it.

2 thoughts on “Can Owners do Anything to Slow the Progress of Collapsing Trachea?”

  1. My yorkie turns 15 in 4 seats. She never really had an issue with her trachea until about 10/11, where if very excited would start to cough. She’s actually one of the healthiest Yorkers I’ve known. But a year ago the persistent coughing started. It is now to the point where she can barely breath at night, all day. I know the meds they give at this point. They rarely work, and she is so elderly. She’s blind in one eye and partially blind in the other. She’s partially deaf now. I do not want to mage this decision. She’s been my little girlfriend for 15 years now and it’s devastating to let her go, but she’s miserable like this.

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